Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Sign up for our twice-weekly newsletter!

Essay: How Tyler, the Creator’s “Sorry Not Sorry” reflects my own personal reinvention

“Learning the hard way is the only way I seem to learn,” I thought to myself as I bounded towards the sunrise on a hot and sticky summer morning in the rural suburbs of Philadelphia. Little did I know that the open road would become my canvas for change.

I committed to running a marathon last fall, which loomed over my warm summer months spent at home. The miles felt shorter day after day, and I had plenty of time to create the person I aspired to be while gliding past the seemingly endless neighborhoods, cornfields and pickup trucks that surround my house. As the scorching heat from the tarmac started to make its way through my running shoes, I reflected on my past. I spent my first year in the District grappling with the pressure of newfound independence. Days no longer followed a discernible pattern, and the tides of my whims and the spontaneous social invitations from my friends dictated my schedule. I missed out on office hours, trips exploring D.C. and anything that required a bit of mindful preparation.

On these long and difficult runs, I realized that I was capable of reaping more from the 24 hours than I am given each day. I began to compose a set of mental expectations that provided updated requirements for my fulfillment. I prioritized the interests that brought me true fulfillment – activities that necessitated mindfulness like reading, writing, spending time outside and exploring a new neighborhood with my friends. But I felt like I learned these lessons a bit too late. I already missed out on the lifestyle I should have had as a freshman, and turning back the clock is impossible. I couldn’t come to terms with the fact that, although I would learn through life experiences, I’d continue to face new problems that taught me hard-earned lessons.

Sitting at home with my feet up and my body thoroughly exhausted, I recovered from the day’s foray into the unrelenting sun. As I recovered, I realized that my philosophy towards running was in itself a counter to my cynicism. The process of running and recovery involves building muscles and cardiovascular tolerance, but it is built through a series of tough lessons. With each run, I broke my body down to the point where I was on my knees panting by the end. But the period of recovery would elicit a newfound strength that – sometimes – revealed itself in my next run. Instead of trying to change in spite of our past, we should change because of the past and the lessons excised from it.

Tyler, The Creator beautifully illustrates this concept of growth through a depiction of rebirth in his new music video for his single “Sorry Not Sorry” released last week. I see that mentality as a progression that represents pursuit for the best version of myself.

As the curtains open on the “Sorry Not Sorry” music video, Tyler’s many forms are displayed on stage, representing his entire discography. Accompanied by expansive horns and occasional choral crescendos, Tyler apologizes to people in his life he has hurt. While doing so, he slowly drags each iteration of himself off the stage. But despite his apologies, his message still comes across like a statement of defiance. Throughout the song, he articulates that although he recognizes the effects his personal evolution can have on others, he will continue to reinvent himself.

The “Sorry Not Sorry” video concludes with violent visuals of the shirtless Tyler beating up his most recent persona from his 2021 album “Call Me if You Get Lost,” symbolizing an ushering in of yet another era of the artist. Tyler conceptualizes growth as a form of reinvention. Instead of trying to change in spite of our past, we should change because of the past and the lessons learned from it.

I dragged my freshman self off stage last semester, and I was born again in the fall. Early mornings spent running before class set a precedent of mindfulness that dictated my entire day. I didn’t feel like I was always a step behind in class anymore – I largely avoided the built-up stress and anxiety that typically accompanied classwork. This was growth, no doubt about it, and my spirit was wide open.

But other parts of my routine shifted somewhat significantly from freshman year. I no longer instinctively asked friends to eat together, and I often rejected invitations from friends because of the next day’s run or to stay on top of academics. I didn’t consider the effect this would have for the people around me until I heard indirectly that one of my friends said “I can’t wait till Michael is done with all this marathon stuff.”

The fact that this positive improvement was not universally lauded by the people around me came as a surprise and quickly turned to frustration. I expect a friend to push me toward growth, not hope I stay the same for convenience. While I am sorry I can no longer be the person who I was expected to be, I am not sorry for the ever-changing definition of “me.”

Tyler constantly redefines what it means to be “Tyler, The Creator” through his evolution from album to album, but for me, each new semester is my rebirth. As the spring turns into summer, the person that I was will be dragged off stage yet again as I continue to reinvent myself.

Michael Morini, a sophomore majoring in international affairs, is an opinions writer.

More to Discover
Donate to The GW Hatchet